Mumbai v Tamil Nadu, 2nd semi-final, Ranji Trophy 2011-12 January 9, 2012

When Tendulkar trumped Tamil Nadu

No single encounter highlights the extent of Mumbai's psychological stranglehold over Tamil Nadu better than the Ranji semi-final of the 1999-2000 season
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When Tamil Nadu walk into Wankhede Stadium for their Ranji Trophy semi-final match against Mumbai, they will be weighed low by the burden of history. If there is one side Tamil Nadu would rather not face in the Ranji Trophy - especially in a knockout fixture - it would have to be Mumbai. Twenty-two times, these two sides have clashed in India's premier first-class tournament. Tamil Nadu have come out on top just twice, whereas Mumbai have won on 13 occasions. Additionally, Mumbai have taken the first-innings lead in five of the seven games that ended in draws. Counting those leads as wins, the head-to-head record stands at a whopping 18-4 in Mumbai's favour. To say that Tamil Nadu are the underdogs in this particular battle is to grossly understate a fact.

Such an overwhelmingly one-sided record cannot be explained by ability, since Tamil Nadu are otherwise among the more consistent first-class sides. Their troubles against Mumbai are clearly mental in nature, as evidenced by the recent knock-out history between the two. After their previous title win in 1987-88, Tamil Nadu have fallen at the final hurdle four times. On two of those occasions, Mumbai were their bugbears. Take away the pressure of a knockout game, and Tamil Nadu's record begins to look better; for instance, the last two head-to-heads between these sides were in the group stage and Tamil Nadu got the decisive first-innings lead both times.

No single encounter highlights the extent of Mumbai's psychological stranglehold over Tamil Nadu better than the semi-final of the 1999-2000 season, also played at Wankhede. After being asked to bat, Tamil Nadu bossed Mumbai's bowlers thanks to big centuries from Hemang Badani and Robin Singh. The pair's free-scoring helped Tamil Nadu race past 400 in only 91 overs - the sort of situation that forces bowling units to throw in the towel. Not Mumbai, though. Ajit Agarkar sliced through the lower order to push Tamil Nadu from 403 for 4 to 485, still a strong position in a knockout game.

Once Tamil Nadu removed Wasim Jaffer and Jatin Paranjpe cheaply, Mumbai needed to summon every ounce of their khadoos [defiant] mindset to get the first-innings lead. It helped that they had one Sachin Tendulkar, who went on to play the Ranji innings of his life. Mumbai were still 36 shy of Tamil Nadu's score when they lost their eighth wicket. Nos. 10 and 11 did not add a single run, but hung around to assist Tendulkar who made a masterly, unbeaten 233 to push Mumbai ahead. Their first-innings lead was worth only five runs, but it was enough to break Tamil Nadu's spirit. The visitors crumbled to 171 in the second innings and Mumbai marched past the target for the loss of just two wickets. Tendulkar would go on to rate the win as the finest moment of his Ranji career.

Tamil Nadu have one survivor from that heartbreak - Jayaraman Gokulakrishnan, who was their first-change fast bowler in that match, is now the team's bowling coach. He remembers the game quite vividly, especially Tendulkar's masterclass, but he also rues Tendulkar's early drop that cost Tamil Nadu the game, in hindsight.

"Very clearly, Sachin's knock was the difference in that game," Gokulakrishnan told ESPNcricinfo. "He has himself gone on to say it was one of his best innings. But that missed opportunity [the fielder was J Madanagopal] cost us dearly.

"It was disheartening to fall behind after the fantastic knocks from Badani and Robin. After reaching 400-odd for four, at one point we thought that's it - we have qualified. But we completely lost momentum to lose the last six wickets cheaply, and that worked in Mumbai's favour.

"One thing different about Mumbai is the self-belief they have. Having won the Ranji Trophy so many times, they don't give up in any situation. I remember the entire TN team thought the game was over once Tendulkar got them the lead."

Prod Gokulakrishnan further and he recalls another nugget. "I distinctly remember that the match was originally supposed to be played a few days earlier. But Tendulkar was in London where he was playing an ICC game, and requested that it be shifted so that he could play. It was a great experience for us to play against him, but it was equally striking that he was so keen to participate in that match."

Gokulakrishnan will be cautioning his wards against repeating the errors from 12 years back, if Tamil Nadu are to overcome their hoodoo against their most feared opponents. It isn't over until the last ball is bowled, especially in a Ranji knockout game against Mumbai.

Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • satish619chandar on January 10, 2012, 13:29 GMT

    @Emancipator007 : Was dropped for Kaif.. Badani was real deserving candidate.. His style and super cool attitude combined with sharp fielding and more than adequate slow left arm.. He was a complete all round package.. I guess he didn't have the attitude which Dada liked in Yuvi/Bhajji/Viru/Zak..

  • theswami on January 10, 2012, 11:49 GMT

    Just because Mr.Tendulkar is a high profile player, you can't move matches to accomodate him. Shame on the board, the player & the Mumbai Cricket Association.

  • harekrishnaom on January 10, 2012, 9:17 GMT

    @ cricketeria , hahaha . But domestic competitions are a lot different from international ones.

  • dummy4fb on January 10, 2012, 7:45 GMT

    Past is past. Live in the present. No use in saying mental weakness when the whole top indian team are staring at a whitewash again against Aus. This article is not the right time to be released.

  • krisapar on January 10, 2012, 6:16 GMT

    It was an awesome innings by SRT - no doubt. But ask the TN players who played that match in private - they would tell you how he was given Not Out by the umpire very early in his innings when he nicked one to the keeper. Local umpires were afraid to give Gavaskar out in his playing days and before the advent of TV, same was the case with SRT. Despite the lofty heights that Sachin has achieved in cricket, my only grouse against him is that - forget international matches - he refused to walk even in local matches when he knew he was out and the umpire would be intimidated by his reputation in giving a verdict. This is a match TN should have won on First innings lead, but for this unsportsmanlike incident.

  • satish619chandar on January 10, 2012, 5:35 GMT

    It was an awesome innings from the master.. It was a time where international bowlers struggled to contain him.. wont blame the domestic bowlers for getting mauled by him.. If i remember correct, Badani scored a 100 that match. He was really a treat to watch but sadly didnot get enough chances to prove.. He did play some matches but was just used as replacement for injured and never given a decent run to prove..

  • RGRG on January 10, 2012, 5:00 GMT

    I was at the Chepauk last week watching them play against Maharashtra. And their bowling attack is too weak than I originially thought . J Kaushik's one off spell saved them the match then. TN's strike bowler is the pressure of their first innings score. I guess if Mumbai are to bat first they will go on to win the match.

  • nickydude on January 10, 2012, 4:49 GMT

    But, this time around, with the Mumbai team composition, I wud give TN a slightly better chance.

  • xylo on January 10, 2012, 4:18 GMT

    the article was a good one to read, until it hit a rough patch here - "But Tendulkar was in London where he was playing an ICC game, and requested that it be shifted so that he could play.". Truly professional to 'request' and equally professional to accommodate such a request I suppose?

  • Emancipator007 on January 10, 2012, 2:23 GMT

    Hemang Badani was noticed in this match. Badani was primed to become the Bevan of India with his superb sheperding of chases during his brief ODI career.I also remember his superb finishing with big scores in one of the Challenger tournaments against very strong attacks. Was inexplicably dropped after doing fairly well in the 2003-04 Tri-series in OZ. Shame that players like Badani and Sandeep Patil of a previous era were never given more chances in ODIs where they thrived. Unlike a Raina who keeps getting UMPTEEN chances despite 10 straight failures in ODIs in SA over 2 tours and an ordinary non-subcontinent record. Players like Badani, Kanitkar, Mujumdar, Ranadeb Bose, deserved lucrative IPL contracts to make up for what they missed out on the international scene. It's a myth that Ranji journeymen and long-timers have been looked after post-IPL with opportunities.

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